Soil Erosion and Torrents in Serbia

Slobodan Petković1 and Milutin Stefanović1

 

 

1 Jaroslav Černi Institute for the Development of Water Resources, 80 Jaroslav Černi St., 11223 Belgrade, Serbia.

 

 

 

Abstract

Soil erosion and flashflood risk areas occupy most of Serbia's territory, as a result of its geomorphological characteristics. Natural and anthropogenic drivers of soil erosion and torrents are discussed in the paper. The conclusion is that the distribution of soil erosion risk areas fully corresponds to the geomorphological predisposition and hydrological characteristics of the territory, meaning that geomorphological parameters (relief) and surface runoff are the key drivers of soil erosion. Precipitation intensity was found not to have a significant effect. The paper also emphasizes that soil erosion and torrents threaten several economic sectors (water management, agriculture, forestry, transportation and utilities), as well as nearly all social activities, such that this subject matter deserves special attention of the government and society.

Keywords: erosion, torrents, geomorphological predisposition, hydrological characteristics.

 

Introduction

Soil erosion and flashflood risk areas occupy most of the territory of Serbia, as a result of its geomorphological characteristics. Hilly and mountainous regions, which constitute three-quarters of Serbia's land area, are naturally susceptible to soil erosion and torrents. Nearly all of these regions are exposed to erosion processes and half of them to high-intensity erosion. On the other hand, torrential flows are common, in view of a well-developed river network in the hilly and mountainous regions. Given the size of these regions, soil erosion control and flashflood protection in Serbia are of enormous economic and social significance.

Soil erosion and flashfloods are two interconnected phenomena, each in its own way causing enormous damage in all spheres of life and economic activity in Serbia. Sincesoil erosion and torrents threaten a number of sectors (including water management, agriculture, forestry, transportation and utilities), as well nearly all social activities, this subject matter deserves special attention of the government and society.

Present status of soil erosion processes

The development of soil erosion processes requires a certain natural predisposition, which involves several erosion drivers. These drivers are analyzed below.

Figure 1 shows the soil erosion map of Serbia, based on long-term field research. The map distinguishes five erosion categories: very low (5), low (4), medium (3), high (2) and excessive (1). The map has the visual appearance of a mosaic because the different categories are not uniformly distributed and there is no single large area that belongs to only one category. The sole exception is the large lowland in the Province of Vojvodina (northern part of Serbia), where very low soil erosion is dominant.

It is apparent from Figure 1 that the soil erosion map corresponds to the geomorphological maps shown in Figures 4 and 5. This is as expected, given that soil erosion processes tend to develop where there is a geomorphological predisposition for such processes. Soil erosion is present in nearly all of Serbia's hilly and mountainous regions, but mostly in its southwestern and southeastern parts.